Monthly Archives: May 2015

Big oil has no business on the committee to determine climate policy

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The NRA: Responsible for Firearms Irresponsibility

BY ON MAY 16, 2015

The NRA: Responsible for Firearms Irresponsibility

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The National Rifle Association has become a liability to the safety of all Americans

I am a mother and this mom is pissed off. I have had enough of the gun control measures being voted down by Congress. There’s been enough domestic shootings, mass shootings, school shootings, police shootings, unintentional shootings involving children, and police officers getting shot. Recently, felons with illegal firearms have murdered officers in Idaho, Mississippi, and New York. Much of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of theNRA.

nraIn 2013, of the 25 officers killed by gunfire, 50% of the shooters were individuals barred from owning a firearm. All were felons with prior convictions or mental health issues. Although most people assume these firearms are stolen, they are more often obtained through straw buyers or even more commonly, trafficked from states with lax background checks, either through the Internet and/or unlicensed gun dealers.

Although federal gun laws stay the same in every state, each state has their own laws and some of them are very “gun friendly.” These states are: Alaska; Florida; Arizona; Idaho; Kentucky; Montana; New Mexico; Texas; Utah; Wyoming; Louisiana; Wisconsin; North Dakota; Kansas; Georgia; and Mississippi. The NRA has their fingerprints all over these pro-gun states.

Gun shows are a huge problem when it comes to straw purchases. Although gun show dealers are ostensibly supposed to run checks, many don’t, and will sell guns to buyerswithout even checking ID. This practice is so common that terrorist leaders overseas call for their followers to just go get guns and begin opening fire on people.

Thanks to the National Rifle Association, background checks have become cursory and the waiting period is much shorter in these states. Not only that but background checks at gun shows are basically non-existent. Since 2013, 102 officers in the line of duty were killed from 2014-May 15, 2015. That’s up from 76 police fatalities in 2013 or 20% increase. Of that 20% increase, 38% are from gunfire with illegal guns.

How is this actually happening? How have these cop killers actually obtained their illegal weapons? Guns are from all over the country are smuggled into areas where there is a demand. This  includes rural and urban neighborhoods. They are used to barter for drugs and other contraband, and are even cheaper on the streets than from licensed gun dealers in many cases.

For a good example, look to the recent killing of Officer Moore in New York City. The murder weapon was traced to a gun shop in Georgia that was broken into, with those same firearms traveling up the “Iron Pipeline” to NYC. Even though New York’s gun control laws have resulted in it being one of only four states reporting a drop in gun homicides from 2003-2013, the lax gun laws in Georgia, where there’s been a marked increase in gun deaths, have directly affected the Empire State in lethal ways.

Similarly, Chicago suffers from a plague of gun violence. The NRA and other pro-gun advocates point to this is an example of how firearms restrictions, as that city has in place, do not work. But this is a fallacy.

Gun laws in one relatively small geographical area are rendered ineffective if the surrounding areas don’t share those restrictions. This is the case in Chicago. It’s easy enough to step outside city limits, get firearms illegally, and drive right back in.

New York City enjoys effective gun laws due in no small part to the fact that its outlying areas share the same legislation. It’s a little tougher to acquire guns illegally in The Big Apple, but it’s certainly not impossible. Felons just need to go farther, like to Georgia.

Oh, that Georgia gun shop that got robbed? All it took to get inside it was a crowbar. How’s that for safety? Real responsible gun ownership there, huh?

After the Sandy Hook tragedy on December 14, 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg started a group called Every Town for Gun Safety. Bloomberg pledged to raise $50 million dollars and tightened gun control issues.

The President of Everytown, John Feinblatt, has also had enough. Feinblatt previously served as Chief Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael R.Bloomberg. He previously served as the Criminal Justice Coordinator for the City of New York and was the founding director of the Center for Court Innovation, the country’s leading think tank devoted to problem solving justice.

In a statement, Feinblatt said, “Police officers are on the front lines of protecting our communities each and everyday – we owe it to them to close the loopholes that make it easy for criminals to dodge background checks an easily get their hands on guns.” Feinblatt went on to say that, police officers are, “vulnerable because of the weak gun laws in our country.”

According to the study from Every Town for Gun Safety, there are a total of 665,129 law enforcement officers in the United States. Of those officers, 322,163 live in states that require a background check for private handgun sales. 342,966 officers live in states that do not require background checks for private handgun sales. Nationwide, a total of 676 officers were killed in action and 551 involved a firearm.

The officers from States with stricter background checks had 272 fatalities compared to states with no background checks and 404 fatalities. Law enforcement officers killed with a handgun that was not their own was 114 and 233 respectively. That is a difference of 48%. That’s huge. Feinblatt calls this a “loophole big enough to drive a Mack truck through.”  FBI data indicates that the number of officers killed feloniously with firearms rose 77 percent since 2013.

We need to restrict the right to bear arms so that those who are convicted felons, people who are psychiatrically distressed, or proven hotheads have this right revoked. As an example, when a domestic abuser is given a restraining order to keep him away from his wife or girlfriend, his right to keep and bear arms should be revoked. Too many women have died because men like this retained their access to guns. Ideally, they should have all guns confiscated and go a in a database preventing from getting new ones, from any source – gun shows included.

When a person demonstrates reckless behavior or brandishes a gun, he or she should lose the right to own it. Just as we do with cars, to borrow a favorite comparison tactic from the NRA and other gun lobbies. The right to bear arms is not absolute, and must be revocable in cases in which the individual displays lack of responsibility. That seems to be common sense.

nraUnfortunately, common sense goes right out the window once the NRA becomes involved. They lobby constantly to repeal and undermine gun laws nationwide, and they’re responsible for the uneven patchwork of laws and regulations from State to State.

In short, the NRA works to make sure gun laws can’t work, in order to say that gun laws don’t work. See how that works?

It is no secret that their money has bought them nigh unlimited power in Congress, and their spokesman, Wayne LaPierre, stated his organization’s direct opposition to Hillary Clinton while making thinly veiled racist jabs at President Obama.

Think about that for a moment; the NRA is openly announcing that they will decide the Presidency of the United States. All the while they claim to be representing patriot Americans but that’s a smoke screen. The NRA actually represents gun manufacturers, not regular Americans. They wave a flag, play a recording of Charlton Heston, and their followers swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

Slowly but surely, people are beginning to shrug off the rhetoric of the NRA. More and more Americans are realizingthe need for greater restrictions of firearms. Organizations like Everytown and Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America have gained a lot of traction in the last few years. And while their critics love to point out how small the movements can seem to be, it can’t be denied that resistance to the NRA was something considered impossible not very long ago. The times are changing. People are pushing for expanded background checks, tougher gun laws, and universal enforcement of all of this.

Still, it won’t be an easy thing for America to shake itself loose from the influence of the NRA. Their supporters rabidly harass anyone speaking out against gun lobbies. Facebook fanpages dedicated to gun culture will direct swarms of trolls to articles they don’t like, or to skew online polls about gun laws. The NRA commonly cites the fraudulent John R. Lott, as well as others who say what they like to hear, regardless of their lack of credibility.

But it’s the NRA’s money which is their greatest weapon. They have bought and paid for politicians at every level, the majority of whom are Republican, to pass gun-friendly legislation at every opportunity. Just as an example of the type of madness they push through, did you know that Iowa allows the blind to carry guns? What could go wrong with that?

The Second Amendment was written as being necessary to the Security of the State. As defined by the NRA, it is Contrary to the Security of the State. The irresponsible are being enabled to own firearms. Criminals use their rhetoric to flaunt their guns under the guise of Open Carry groups. Gun laws are weakened, repealed, and the nation is kept under the thumb of gun manufacturers. That is not freedom.

Americans need to resist the lies, intimidation tactics, and propaganda forwarded by the NRA. We will never be truly free until we do.

Additional material provided by Chad R. MacDonald.

What The Hell Have Republicans Really Done For Conservative Voters?

October 19, 2014 By Allen Clifton

Conservatives like to go on and on about the horrific policies of the Obama administration and how terrible Democrats are. But something that I seem to always notice is missing is what their party has done for them. See, as a liberal who voted for President Obama, I can tell you what he’s done for this country: Created over 10 million jobs, presided over record high stock levels, Found and killed Osama bin Ladin, passed health care reform, saved the American auto industry, To just name a few, out of the long list of things that he’s done.

These are quantifiable things that I can point to and say, “See, this is what my party did for me.” Though conservatives will undoubtedly scoff at all of those. Because as we all know when it comes to conservatives, if Fox News doesn’t say it, it’s not real. But when it’s all said and done, what the hell has their party done for them? Let’s get a couple of social issues out of the way: Gay marriage, abortion, outside of the people directly involved in a same-sex wedding, or an abortion, how exactly does that impact anyone else’s life? The answer is simple: It doesn’t. So, continuing to fight for these social issues isn’t “doing something” to improve the lives of the conservative voter. It’s just a power play based on some ignorant desire to control strangers based on what they believe is right or wrong. But even if same-sex marriages and abortions were illegal, that doesn’t “improve” the life of the average conservative voter. Sure, it gives them a “win,” but it’s not doing something for them. Because the typical conservative voter wasn’t going to have an abortion or marry a homosexual in the first place. So whether or not those two things are legal has absolutely no direct impact on their life. (Unless of course they’re a hypocrite and rally against things that secretly they would do, just to save face with their conservatism or Christian beliefs.)

So, again, what has the Republican party done for the conservative voter? Has this “trickle-down” economics made them rich? And don’t give me this “well Democrats keep preventing it from working properly” nonsense. Taxes have remained at all-time lows since Reagan. The rich are doing better than they ever have in this country. Many large corporations are making billions. So don’t give me this crap about taxes or regulations. If those were really burdens to our economy, then the rich would be suffering too. And they’re not. In fact, they’re flourishing.

Is it guns? Because as far as I can tell, President Obama hasn’t passed a single law to strip away gun rights. Actually, the only suggestions he really made were universal background checks and limits on magazine size. And I’m sorry, but if you can’t hit a target with 10 bullets, you shouldn’t be operating a gun in the first place. And why would anyone oppose universal background checks? Have we become so paranoid in this country that we can’t wait a week for a gun? If you really believe your life is in that much immediate danger you either need to call 911 or seek professional help. Besides, are gun rights really an issue on which you want to support an entire political party? How does that make sense? Vote against your own best interests in nearly every other facet of your life because you get to own more guns and get them a few days quicker than if the other party was in charge? Sure, you’ve got a safe full of guns – while you work 60 hours a week at two jobs for $7.25 an hour because the party you vote for refuses to raise the minimum wage. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

And if I’m not mistaken (and I’m not) didn’t Bush tell us back in the early 2000′s that his tax cuts were going to usher in economic prosperity and eliminate our national debt? So, how exactly did the opposite of that happen? That’s right, because trickle-down economics is scam. Is it this fear-mongering against people on welfare? Conservatives do realize that millions of conservatives are on welfare, right? And when it gets right down to it, welfare abuse makes up a very small percentage of those receiving these benefits. But this also ties into the minimum wage issue. Because millions of American workers have full-time jobs, yet still rely on the government to survive. And as much as it “pains” me to say this, mostly Republican states lead the nation when it comes to citizens relying on government assistance.

Women’s rights? Please. Female conservatives, please explain to me what the Republican party has done to secure true equality for women in America. Then there’s always health care. After all, Republicans really tried to fix our broken health care system, right? Isn’t it amazing how suddenly “Obamacare” is some social radical idea, yet it was a Republican idea in the 90′s?

In fact, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, passed nearly the exact same law while he was governor of Massachusetts. But I guess once the black guy supported the law, then it became “evil socialism.” And to this day, even with all of their objections to “Obamacare,” Republicans have yet to provide a single plausible alternative. Except, of course, “Obamacare.” Oh, and for the record, almost all of the propaganda Republicans use against the Affordable Care Act:

Canceled plans

Kills jobs

Premium hikes

Confusing

Those are actually all arguments as to why we need true universal health care for all. Bush was president for eight years and Republicans had control of most of Congress for much of his time in Washington. What did conservative voters get from it? Is Iraq better off? No. Did we balance the budget? No. Did we pay off our national debt? No. Did we find Osama bin Ladin? No. Did we usher in unheralded economic prosperity? No. Did we “win the war on terror”? No. Tell me, what the heck did Republicans do for anyone but the rich during Bush’s eight years? The only people who really prospered during his time in the White House were the wealthy, big business, big oil and big defense. That was it.

So, conservative voter, I ask of you: What the hell has the Republican party actually done for you?
Read more at: http://www.forwardprogressives.com/what-have-republicans-really-done-for-conservative-voters/

Republicans, Rights And Responsibilities

BY ON MAY 7, 2015    NEWS, POLITICS

Republicans need to take responsibility for the rights they hold dear as well as the rights they do not

Fringe groups of the Republican Party are quick to point out the rights afforded to them under the United States Constitution. Freedom of religion and the right to bear arms are two of their favorite topics. Anyone who dares to regulate either one is in for one hell of a fight. Yet the very same group is loath to admit that with any set of rights comes an equally important set of responsibilities.

Every American citizen is born with “rights’ under the Constitution. For example, we have a right to free speech. However, we also have a responsibility not to threaten people or to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. When choosing to live in any society we are charged with certain expectations to help that society thrive. Yet it is the groups that yell the loudest about their “rights” that in turn are the most selfish about giving back to the country they claim to “love” so much. It is this denial of responsibility that is taking its toll on our country.

Taxes

No one enjoys paying taxes. However, American corporations and freedom loving Tea Party groups have taken this dislike to the extreme. Who can forget the several days standoff withCliven Bundy, the right-wing nut who refused to pay taxes for his grazing cattle for over twenty years and is estimated to owe the U.S. Taxpayers over $1 million dollars? Rather than pay the tax he issued a call to arms and gun nuts from across the country ran to his side in an effort to fight for his “freedom” to screw the government out of his fair share of taxes.

American corporations in turn are not much better than Bundy when it comes to freeloading. A corporation will go to great lengths to reduce its tax burden to the lowest percentage possible. Corporations such as Boeing and General Electric paid no income tax at all over a five year period. While the average citizen pays anywhere from 5-35% in taxes each year. Meanwhile we struggle with ways to pay for repairs to our crumbling infrastructure and provide decent public school education programs to our youth.

Health Care

When Obama introduced his signature healthcare plan nearly 47.3 million people lacked health insurance. Nearly 1 in 6 people were forced to declare bankruptcy due to mounting medical costs from a catastrophic illness that left them unable to work. Several years after the passage of “Obamacare” 9 out of 10 Americans now have some form of health insurance. The burden to hospital emergency rooms mandated to treat patients regardless of ability to pay has been greatly reduced.

Yet despite its success the Republican-controlled House has vote to repeal “Obamacare” 56 times to date. The reasons why they are so hell-bent on its repeal are many. Mostly it boils down to the simple formula that government-mandated healthcare amounts to taking from the rich to give to the poor. Even though every advanced country has some form of universal healthcare simply because it’s the right thing to do and it lessens the overall burden to society.

Voting

There are 206,072,000 people eligible to vote in America and of that number just 146,311,000 are registered to vote. In a presidential election year just 64% of registered voters turn out to vote. In primary elections the percentage of voters is drastically lower and estimated near 20% or lower. The result of low voter turnout has far reaching consequences for everyone.

Primary election voters decide who will run in general elections and when voter turnout is low special interest, fringe candidates often advance to run against the chosen candidate from the opposing party. In heavily controlled Republican districts, this radical candidate will win easily. It is how candidates like Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott manage to win elections even though both have clearly broken with reality.

Abbott recently convinced himself that the Federal Government was set to take over Texas. He has mobilized the Texas National Guard to “fight” off an invasion meant to seize the guns of law abiding Texans. Abbott’s panic stems from routine exercises performed by military personnel over seven states. Abbott believes that this is a cover by Obama for an invasion staged from Walmarts in Texas that are closed for remodeling. Keep in mind, this is the governor…

Not to get lost in all the nuts, but the bottom line here is voting rights. If Republicans really cared about the people in this country and their so-called rights, you would think they’d be making it easier for people to exercise the most fundamental of rights, the right to vote. It is well understood that Republicans have been doing the opposite with voter ID laws, gerrymandering districts, etc.

It has become clear over the years that the Republican Party isn’t really quick to defend their rights so much as they are quick to defend their own interests. That’s why they are always willing to defend your right to own a gun and preach the gospel, but could care less about your right to an abortion or get married to a member of the same sex.

It is equally clear that the Republican Party has little desire to be responible. Their misguided beliefs in favoring war, the wealthy and trickle down economics has led to enormous deficits, massive income inequality, crumbling infrastructure, and the American corporate oligarchy.

So, when a Republican gets in you face about their rights, be sure to ask them about their responsibilities. I wonder how many will tell you it isn’t their problem. For Republicans and Libertarians, it’s always someone else’s responsibility.